How to Lose Sales

Given my current stint in the automotive sales world, I couldn’t resist commenting here on a post by Andy Sernovitz, “How to lose a sale by reading a script instead of helping a prospect.

According to his post Andy visits an auto dealership web site and asks two questions: “do you have [make of car] and when is the least crowded time to come by?”

Andy never made it to the dealership. He was frustrated because the ‘web attendant’ tried to follow the script step by step.

As the person that takes calls from the web site and replies to the submitted forms, I’d have loved to have someone like Andy – he asked when he should come in. The way he asked his question made it clear he wanted to get in, purchase, and get out.

So let’s go to his first complaint, the attendant not knowing if they had the vehicle. I work at a Chevy dealership, but we also carry pre-owned vehicles from a wide range of manufacturers. With sales taking place six days a week, twelve hours a day, vehicles are constantly moving in and out of inventory.

I learned this lesson the hard way – by upsetting a customer. The vehicle was on the lot. He called and I checked our online inventory. ¬†Still there, so he came in to find out it had sold the night before. Our manager was able to get a similar vehicle to our lot from another dealership, but it taught me to always check the actual board in the manager’s office.

Now having said that, I could have easily told Andy, we had one, let me check to see if it is still on the lot. Before putting him on hold, I’ll write the phone number down from where he is calling (shows on my phone) and ask if he has a trade-in and what it is.

When I check on the vehicle, I get the price, mileage, and any other information that might be helpful to Andy so I don’t have to put him on hold again.

Andy’s second complaint was the intense desire to capture name, phone, and email. I do ask for their name (if they only give first name, no problem), but with a phone number, vehicle they want, and vehicle they have, if I’m at the dealership I’ll know it was my lead, and if not, I look at the log, see the first name, vehicle, and can then ask questions to confirm it was the person I spoke/chatted with.

And this is probably why the strict adherence to the script comes into play. If the web attendant (WA) wants to get paid, he/she needs to generate leads. Without Andy’s name, phone, and email the WA can’t add Andy to the CRM. By not adding him the WA can’t demonstrate a lead, which means no commission when Andy visits and no bonus when Andy buys the vehicle.

I agree with Andy that his experience was frustrating, but I also sympathize with the WA who was trying to earn a living. Ideally, the WA would learn to eliminate barriers like those stated by Andy and still be able to be rewarded for the leads delivered.


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